Principal Scientist at the Aerospace Corporation
Lawrence J. DeLucas, O.D., Ph.D., D.Sc. (Hon)
Dr. DeLucas is a Principal Scientist at the Aerospace Corporation. He was previously a Professor in the School of Optometry, Senior Scientist and Director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center X-ray Core Facility, and Director of the Center for Structural Biology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). Dr. DeLucas received five degrees from UAB culminating in a Doctor of Optometry degree and a Ph.D. degree in Biochemistry. He also received honorary Doctor of Science degrees from the Ohio State University, Ferris State University, SUNY College of Optometry and the Illinois College of Optometry.
He has published more than 160 peer-reviewed research articles in various scientific journals, co-authored and edited several books on protein crystal growth and membrane proteins and is a co-inventor on 43 patents involving protein crystal growth, novel biotechnologies and structure-based drug design. He has been an invited lecturer at numerous national and international scientific meetings concerning biotechnology research.
DeLucas was a member of the 7 person crew of Space Shuttle Columbia for Mission “STS-50”, called the United States Microgravity Laboratory-1 (USML-1) Spacelab mission. Columbia launched on June 25 and returned July 9, 1992. While in space, DeLucas participated in thirty-one different scientific, physics and research materials experiments as a payload specialist. His mission lasted 14 days -the longest space shuttle duration mission at the time. He traveled more than 6 million miles, completing 221 orbits of earth and logging over 331 hours in space.
From 1994 to 1995, Dr. DeLucas served as the Chief Scientist for the International Space Station at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Dr. DeLucas’ recent research involved a comprehensive evaluation of protein crystal growth in microgravity. His research team analyzed crystallization results from 96 different proteins that flew to the ISS via the Space-X rocket and remained in space until their return 6.5 months later. He is currently involved in an investigation to determine why protein crystals grown in microgravity are often of higher quality than their counterparts grown on earth. His current laboratory research involves development of a novel method to express membrane proteins and drug discovery projects for cancer metastasis and protection against Yersinia pestis, the causative agent of plague and a potential bio-warfare agent.
Dr. DeLucas is a founder and current board member of Soluble Therapeutics Inc., member of the Board of Directors for Indian Springs School, board member of the Alabama Chapter for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Chairman of Stem Initiative for the Greater Alabama Council for the Boy Scouts of America and the co-Director of the Alabama Youth Leadership Development Program (YLDP). He also served on Science Advisory Boards for Minerva BioSciences, Inc. and Space Energy, Inc. and the Board of Directors for Vivo Biosciences, Inc. and Diversified Scientific, Inc.
Dr. DeLucas was the Recipient of the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Mentorship in the UAB Graduate School (April 2015), an Inductee as a Fellow in the National Academy of Inventors (December 2013), and Recipient of the Odessa Woolfolk Community Service Award for his outstanding community and educational outreach activities (2012). He received the honorary Alumnus Award, Department of Natural Sciences and Mathematics (January 28, 2010), at UAB (to recognize outstanding alumni and scholarship recipients in the Department of Natural Sciences and Mathematics) and in 2004 he was recognized as a Top Ten Finalist for the Entrepreneur of the Year award from the Birmingham Business Journal.
Dr. DeLucas was awarded the prestigious Distinguished Faculty Lecturer at UAB (2000), the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching (2011), the Howard Heflin Statesmanship Award for Technology (1999) and in 1999 he was recognized as one of the scientists who could shape the 21st century in an article published by “The Sunday Times” of London titled “The Brains Behind the 21st Century”. In October, 2002 Dr. DeLucas was inducted into the National Optometry Hall of Fame.